Paul Lonyangata beats all odds to conquer in Taipei marathon
Paul Lonyangata, of Kenya, finishes in fourth place at the Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. [AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh]

Paul Lonyangata, who was quarantined in Taiwan for over two weeks, broke a four-year-old record as he won men’s 2020 Taipei Marathon yesterday.

But Ethiopians won the top three spots in women’s race.

After losing the advantage of training in high altitude, Lonyangata beat huge odds to chalk up victory.

Lonyangata, a former Paris Marathon winner, finished the 42.195-km run in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 26 seconds, besting the previous record of 2:09:59 set Kenya’s Sammy Kitwara in 2016 by more than a minute.

He remained in quarantine ahead of the race, all the while training in treadmills thus losing the advantage of altitude training.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, in an online interview with four African journalists, said:

“It has to be an individual athlete to decide on the race to compete in. I am sure they are aware that every country has different approached to Covid-19 restrictions,” said Coe on Lonyangata’s tribulations.

“Some countries have different approaches. It is not the responsibility of World Athletics to guide on local laws. It is the duty of the athlete to understand local laws before accepting invitation to races in various countries,” he added.

Paul Lonyangata beats all odds to conquer in Taipei marathon
This combination of pictures created on April 09, 2017 shows Kenya’s Prurity Rionoripo (L) and her husband Kenya’s Paul Lonyangata crossing the finish line to win the 41st Paris Marathon in Paris on April 9, 2017. [AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG]

For setting the new record, Lonyangata earned an extra NT$1 million (Sh3.5 million) on top of the first place prize, according to organisers.

“I feel so happy,” said Lonyangata when receiving the prize, noting that he was satisfied with his finishing time considering the rainy weather in Taipei.

Another Kenyan runner, Elisha Rotich, came in second in a time of 2:12:15, while Estonian Tiidrek Nurme finished third in 2:15:19.

In the women’s race, Askale Wegi won the race in a time of 2:27:39, more than three minutes ahead of Alemtsehay Kasegn, who finished with a time of 2:31:08 and Zinash M. Lema, who clocked 2:31:32.

Taiwanese runner Tsao Chun-yu took fourth in 2:31:49, breaking the national record of 2:34:18 she set last year.

The fastest Taiwanese runner in the men’s group was Chou Ting-yin, who claimed the same title in 2017 and 2018 and finished seventh at this year’s event.

Paul Lonyangata beats all odds to conquer in Taipei marathon
Kenya’s Paul Lonyangata celebrates as he places first in the Men’s Group during the 42nd edition of the Paris Marathon on April 8, 2018 in Paris. [AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG]

Over 37,000 signed up for this year’s Taipei Marathon, and 28,000 were selected in a draw to take part in the event that comprises a full-marathon and a half-marathon, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said before the race began.

In a bid to make the Taipei event an International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) Platinum Label Road Race – the highest rating – the city also invited 12 elite runners from eight countries who underwent a 14-day quarantine before competing Sunday, Ko said.

The Taipei Marathon is an IAAF Bronze Label event.

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